This is one of the most annoying oxymorons of life. You get somewhere, and then you have to wait. You’re ready to do something, but someone else applies the brakes. So what do you do when you have “spare time” or you aren’t immediately required to do something? Usually, the answer depends on how much time you have available to hurry up and wait.
Five or So Minutes
If you have five or so minutes, take a breath. If you are waiting in line, take a deep breath. Trying to rush others will only add to the stress everyone in the situation is feeling. If that breath doesn’t take enough time, try grounding yourself. You’ll notice that the second suggestion on the list that I’ve linked is breathing. Take the subtle hint along with the extra oxygen.
If you don’t like breathing, try some other exercises like being aware of your clothing: such as what fits and what doesn’t. If you don’t like your clothes, pick something out of arm’s length and picture how it would feel. For example, I work at a library with a lot of 3-D printed items. Each one feels a little different because of the different materials used. If you don’t want tactile exercises, picture what someone around you is thinking based solely on their facial expressions and body language.
An Hour…A Good Hour
If you have over ten minutes, prepare a go-bag and use it. This will take a little more planning, but is definitely worthwhile. If you write a lot, take some paper and something to write with. If you have writer’s block, write down all the ideas you have for your story, blog, or creative work. If they’re “terrible” you don’t have to use them. If you draw, doodle the weirdest thing you can think of, or practice a basic skill like cross-hatching. Whatever you do, practice your skillset, even if it’s just for a little bit. If you can’t actively practice it, then visualize yourself doing it.
If you are struggling with a problem, think about how one of your heroes would react. Maybe you’re a teacher dealing with a difficult situation because of your students or their parents. Put your hero in that situation and try to picture what they would do about it. Now take that same situation and put an idiot into it. Think about what they would do or say that you know would make the situation that much worse. It shouldn’t have to be said, but if the idiot would do it, do not do that thing.
Another option is to play. This could be actually playing a game, reading a book, or exercising. It’s your time, and you’ve earned it. R-E-L-A-X. Meditate, or do handstands. Listen to your favourite album, or make a new playlist that makes you happy. You get the idea.
Astute readers will notice that I haven’t suggested that you get on your phone. As someone who struggles with focus, I know that it’s easy to get sucked into your phone. I also find it worrisome that being on my phone makes me lose track of time even more than usual. I know that getting out my phone is just standard practice, but something I plan to decrease is purposeless scrolling or doom-scrolling.
As I understand it, scrolling through social media is a lot like being attached to a dopamine drip. Maybe it’s the paranoia talking, but that seems a lot like being a wirehead. I don’t think that we’re there yet, but it’s easy to see how social media and similar things can drive us toward addiction. It’s been my experience that I take out my phone or use my headphones to shut out the world. Sometimes experiences can be too much, and I need that hit of dopa-tone-ephrine, or whatever that brain chemical is. However, I find that the more I practice being aware of my surroundings rather than being on my phone, the easier it is to put down my phone and be aware of my surroundings.
TL;DR If you have five minutes, practice grounding or observation skills. If you have 20 minutes to an hour, plan for your boredom by preparing something to do. Practice your skill set, whatever that might look like. Think through your problem from a different perspective, even if you come up with the wrong answer. Of course, you can always take the time to relax. Don’t let your brain trick you into using auto-pilot, as comforting as that might be.
Let me know your best “Hurry up and Wait” skill in the comment section. Until next time…